Beef Rendang

If there’s a curry that epitomises everything I love in a curry, it’s a Malaysian rendang – meltingly tender meat, intense rich sauce and a fragrant complex flavour. The Malaysian rendang delivers top marks in all categories. It’s one of my all time favourites. A thick, clingy sauce coats big chunks of butter-soft beef – no knife required. It’s also one of the easiest curries to make. The key is time, giving it long enough to cook. There’s a world of difference to a well cooked rendang and a badly cooked one. So don’t get too excited or greedy and take to off the heat too early. Give it plenty of time to cook until the meat is soft enough. A great way to intensify the flavour is to make it 24 hours in advance. The flavours will develop and make it that extra bit special – if you have the will power to wait. See for yourself why this curry is one of the most amazing creations ever…


1kg beef chuck steak (cut into large 100g pieces)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar

2 lemon grass stalks (white parts only, thinly sliced)
2 French shallots (finely sliced) (or 1/2 sliced medium red onion)
1 tablespoon fresh galangal (chopped)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger (chopped)
5 cloves garlic (peeled and chopped)
15-20 dried red chillies (soaked in 1 cup boiling water for 30 mins)
4 fresh small red chillies (seeded and chopped)
4 candle nuts (or macadamia nuts) (pounded)
1 teaspoon shrimp paste

2 tablespoons peanut oil
550ml coconut milk

Marinate the beef in the soy sauce and sugar in a large bowl. Set aside.

In a food processor, blend together until very smooth all the paste ingredients and 100ml of the coconut milk.

Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat until hot. Add the beef in one layer and cook for 3 minutes each side to brown well. Pour over the paste and the remaining coconut milk together with 250ml water. Bring this to a simmer, then reduce the heat to very low to simmer gently. Cook, covered for 3-4 hours until the beef is very tender. Remove the lid and turn up the heat to moderate to reduce the sauce so that is very very thick and clings to the beef (about 15-20 more minutes). The oil may separate – this is normal and is the sign of a great sauce.

Check for seasoning and add salt if necessary.

I prefer mine served with Malaysian style roti bread (buy the frozen ones – they’re great), but it’ll also work with rice.

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